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Facebook: It’s time for users to receive incentives to use the service

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Undoubtedly the world’s largest social network – Facebook – was founded by Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg, along with Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin. That was 2004, and business was probably not as important as it is today. It seemed like a cool project by a few students in the University dormitory. One of those projects you build, because you love it. Not so much because you want to sell it.

2006: Facebook goes in search of the money

Over the past 12 years, business at Facebook has reached a massive scale. None of it happened overnight. It took the team well over a decade to build the network as we know it today. What began as a platform for users to communicate, turned to brands to build a larger advertising platform. Much like Google, which is probably the largest company in the business of advertising.

Facebook first got into a partnership with Microsoft in 2006 where strategic banner ad syndication made Microsoft an exclusive partner to provide banner ads. That was 10 years ago, and officially, Facebook advertising was noticeable.

What changed over the past 10 years is the way personalities and brands have grown on Facebook. TV news, commercials and mainstream media took to Facebook to have a presence and connect with users.

But isn’t it all about consumers always?

Facebook became a platform for brands, companies and products to market themselves. You could see interactive posts by innovative brands. Every ad agency in the world started thinking of innovative ways of using Facebook. Clicks, Likes and Shares were (and to a great deal are) metrics upon which success was determined.

Facebook began as a platform for people to connect, reconnect and network with friends, long-lost friends, distant relatives and colleagues. As a millennial myself, I remember how my parents and relatives from the baby boomer generation felt elated at finding their classmates on Facebook. At times, I’ve even seen some go teary-eyed. Much to the amusement of my younger friends from the newer generations. I guess in addition to lesser attention spans, we also just see relationships as a count. A number!

What changes then?

Sooner or later, the excitement of finding a new friend fades. I’m sure some see that as a lack of empathy or emotions. But if one says that the enthusiasm of finding a new job fades in a few weeks, it doesn’t question one’s integrity for the months that follow. It simply means we’re all human. Similarly, no one can do justice to each and every Facebook friend especially if you have 1000 of them. According to a study, having more than 300 friends could add more stress to life. I tend to agree. Where does that leave us? Well probably we need to update less, and enjoy life more.

But that makes a lot of people unhappy!

Yes, indeed. A lot. Brands are unhappy. Facebook is unhappy. Engagement is needed. Conversations need to happen on Facebook, but not for better quality of life. For better revenues for Facebook. When engagement is at an all-time high, brands would pay Facebook the premium it demands. So when earnings come at the cost of user engagement, it is imperative for Facebook to park some of that revenue towards boosting user engagement. That’s the foremost metric upon which the success of the world’s largest social network lies. It can’t afford to plateau now.


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